Under-23 coach David Notoane to lead SA in CHAN qualifier against Lesotho
South Africa will have national Under-23 coach David Notoane in charge for their African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Lesotho in under two weeks’ time.
A combination of Stuart Baxter and Thabo Senong had led the side in the qualifiers two years ago‚ where they lost out to Zambia‚ but this time the SA Football Association (Safa) have decided to give vital game-time to the Under-23s for the meetings with Lesotho‚ which are scheduled for July 28 (away) and the weekend of August 2-4.
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Competition rules mean Notoane will only have locally-based players available for the qualifier‚ but he will still be targeting using as many of his players as possible to assist with the build-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier against Botswana in late August and September.
But given that the second leg will be played on the same weekend as the start of the Absa Premiership season‚ it seems unlikely that Notoane will get the likes of the SuperSport United pair of Teboho Mokoena and Kamohelo Mahlatsi‚ Mamelodi Sundowns’ Phakamani Mahlambi and Baroka FC’s Jemondre Dickens.
But for those members of his squad that are fringe players with their teams‚ it could be a useful exercise to spend more time together ahead of the more crucial Botswana fixtures.
The one drawcard of CHAN for clubs and players is that the matches represent full international caps‚ and therefore could add significantly to the CVs of those involved.
Lesotho are likely to have virtually the same side that has reached the semifinals of the last three Cosafa Cup tournaments‚ and therefore will present a formidable opponent.
Safa have previously shown various degrees of interest in CHAN.
They entered the qualifiers for the first tournament that was staged in Ivory Coast in 2009‚ but were ousted at the final stage by Zimbabwe‚ losing both legs of their qualifier for a 3-0 aggregate loss.
They reached the finals in Sudan in 2011 with a squad made up almost entirely of fringe players at National First Division teams and players from the ABC Motsepe League‚ but surprised to make the quarterfinals‚ where they eventually lost to Algeria.
Tiyani Mabunda‚ Jabulani Shongwe‚ Edward Manqele and Katlego Mashego were all part of that squad and would go on to have successful careers in the Premier Soccer League.
South Africa qualified as hosts in 2014‚ but despite picking the cream of talent from the PSL under coach Gordon Igesund‚ bombed in the first round in a pool that contained Nigeria‚ Mali and Mozambique.
Bafana lost to Angola in the qualifiers for the 2016 tournament‚ and Zambia for the finals two years ago.